Best Shared Web Hosting Platform Under $10/month

2013.09.15

Search today for internet web hosting and prepare to process a horde of near identical offerings, peppered with a cacophony of anecdotal testimonial cries for attention. The competition in the hosting industry has reached a level at which there is almost nothing to differentiate any one player from their adversaries and where we have become flooded with third party advertising masquerading as blogs and benchmarking outfits – nearly all with nothing to back up any of their claims.

To cut through this noise we need to find and isolate the most scientifically compiled reviews for our perusal. This means first and foremost that the review data must be unbiased and all comparisons made are legitimate apples-to-apples examinations. We should also favour sources that are non commercial in nature (not selling anything or at least not selling the web hosting products that are under their review). Exercising these (modest) requirements has produced a small but informative dataset for us to work with.

Resources Chosen for Data Collection

The most valuable resource chosen at the time of this writing is wpsitecare.com, who have compiled wordpress hosting performance data by testing seven popular hosting companies. Their methodology is to host an identical website on each competing hosting company’s servers and then use the third party benchmarking tool load impact to stress test the sites in question from several geographically independent high-bandwidth locations on the internet. The results of thier investigation identify three strong contenders in our quest for good value shared hosting under $10/month:

performace metrics

The second resource that we will employ is reviewsignal.com. Although Review Signal receives some income from the companies they collect data regarding, the reviews themselves are by nature unbiased, being sourced and aggregated in an automated fashion from twitter testimonials. This Review Signal investigation includes data on six of the seven companies already inspected in the WPSitecare study, resulting in nicely overlaping coverage and allowing us to compare these results side by side. Any correlation between our datasets adds further credibility to both parties’ work, and indeed we find that much of Review Signal's data, although collected by different means than that of WPSitecare, allows the drawing of similar conclusions. A Small Orange is the most highly regarded service by Reviewsignal's twitter hivemind, followed by Hostgator and Dreamhost, with Bluehost and Godaddy bringing up the rear.


The last resource that we utilize to support our investigation is dotcom monitor who have compiled a list of some of the most popular hosting providers ranked by the network speed of those providers’ respective homepages. Although this approach is perhaps not quite as scientifically relevant as those employed by our previous two resources it does nevertheless give us a platform upon which to double-check those results. Resultingly (and although our very top contenders are not included in this roundup), it does give some insight by ranking Hostgator, Dreamhost, Bluehost and Godaddy again in the same order as they were ranked by the previous two sources. Also and interestingly, it brings to our attention one other player: Webhostingpad, which is able to compete with the fastest sites in their benchmark and is at the same time the least costly of the alternatives we consider here.

As already mentioned, competition in the web hosting arena is very tight, with an almost complete overlap in terms of features offered and the players struggle to differentiate themselves. It therefore perhaps should be noted that one of the ways many of these hosting companies attempt to differentiate is to advertise “unlimited” plans, whereby they claim to offer unlimited disk space, bandwidth, email addresses and databases. Here it should be understood that the term “unlimited” is subject to several caveats that will become more clear once you have read their respective Acceptable Use Policies. For most intents and purposes however, the restrictions alluded to in those policies are rarely encountered in the field by their clients and are only meant to prevent (what they consider) large scale abuses of their service. Note here also that A Small Orange is an exception to this “unlimited” approach. They do offer the ability to host an unlimited number of domains on any one account, but model their pricing tiers based on disk space and bandwidth allowances.

Some Further Considerations

Some other differentiators that we should consider are free lifetime domain hosting, and of course price. Some companies offer plans that include free domain name hosting for life, and since domain name hosting usually costs in the neighbourhood $10-$15 per year for a standard domain, another way we can interpret this perk is that it effectively reduces the cost of the web hosting plan by about $1 per month.

Another aspect of pricing to be aware of is that the discounted monthly prices that many hosting companies quote are only charged if multiple months or years are purchased up front. If a true month-to-month payment plan is required the cost can be much higher. This fact is reflected herein wherever pricing is mentioned throughout this article. It also pays to be aware that some companies will quote an “introductory” price, but might not make the fact clear up front that any subsequent renewals of their plans will be at a higher “standard” price. Bluehost, Hostgator and Godaddy and are three examples of companies that engage in this practice. For example Bluehost offers an introductory price of $3.95/month, but any renewals will happen at their standard price of $6.99/month – a 75% increase.

Furthermore, while all plans investigated here allow an unlimited number of subdomains to be hosted, some plans also allow you to host an unlimited number of domains. Others allow only one. Because of this, before you decide on your hosting plan you should first decide how many individual domain specific websites you plan to host on this account, as the resulting price per plan can vary significantly on this point. If you only intend to host one website with your new account then you do not need to consider this domains/subdomains issue, can safely ignore it, and continue reading.

Evaluating the results

First you should decide how to rank the following factors in terms of relative importance:

  • performance
  • price
  • ease of use (judged here by overall satisfaction rating)

Ranking Hosts by Performance

If performance is your primary concern you should tend toward one of the three winners of the performance benchmarks done by WPSitecare, namely

A Small Orange maintains a dominant position in our results as long as performance is the primary deciding factor because as well as being a top performer it is also the cheapest of the the high performance hosts reviewed here, and gets highest marks in the satisfaction benchmarks from Review Signal. The outcome is that if your website will not require more disk space and bandwidth than A Small Orange offers with their smaller (and cheaper) plans then they are in a very strong position to be your chosen host.

If you intend to host only one website but also want the psychological comfort of having “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth, then site5’s HostBasic account is a good alternative at $4.95/month prepaid for 2 years.

If you intend to host multiple sites and require unlimited disk space and bandwidth then dreamhost may be your better bet, as it sports the same raw price as site5’s HostPro account, but includes a free domain name for life (the equivalent of a $1/month rebate on the price of hosting) resulting in an effective price of $7.95/month on a 2 year plan. However be aware that twitter history has not judged dreamhost as favourably as A Small Orange in terms of the Review Signal satisfaction benchmark (and site5 is not included in that benchmark at all). Therefore if you have limited experience running a website and believe you might require more than an average amount of support you might be better off paying slightly more for one of A Small Orange’s larger plans.

Ranking Hosts by Price

On the other hand if your primary deciding factor is price, then the decision is between A Small Orange’s Tiny plan – if you can live with 250MB of disk space and 5GB of monthly bandwidth – for $2.92/month prepaid for 2 years, and Webhostingpad who offer an “unlimited” plan for $1.99/month prepaid for 3 years. As with site5, Webhostingpad has not at this time been ranked by Review Signal, and we therefore have no reliable way to compare it to A Small Orange and Dreamhost in terms of public opinion/satisfaction.

Ranking Hosts by Ease of Use

As noted above, A Small Orange emerges as a very strong competitor in our investigation since it places so highly in all three of our ranking criteria of Performance, Price, and Ease of Use. Its only potential weak point is its lack of “unlimited” hosting plans – which we believe to be at most only a minimal drawback in real use. However if you would be more comfortable with an unlimited style plan then Hostgator may well fill your requirement, and is the second most highly approved host in our study. Just remember that the renewal price for a Hostgator account can be higher than that of the introductory.

Lastly, for those of you that are very confident in your IT and server related skills and don’t require any support whatsoever with your web hosting plan, there are a couple of further options, both of which receive accolades from their (specialised) userbase:

Each offer solid services without any handholding for very low prices and are worth investigating if you belong in the “advanced admin” category.

Finding great hosting is increasingly difficult today since as the competition increases in this area so does the noise level. It is our hope that you are able to use this study as a strong filter for that noise, and to fast track you in your quest for a new website home. Bon voyage!